Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 166

Maverick Chechen warlord Salman Raduev yesterday threatened that, if the Dagestani authorities do not release local politician Magomed Khachilaev by September 13, Raduev will dispatch men from his “Army of General Dudaev” to free him. A spokesman for Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov disavowed Raduev’s threats, repeating Maskhadov’s promise that Chechnya will “in no circumstances” intervene in Dagestan. (NTV, September 10)

The arrest of Magomed Khachilaev, deputy to the Dagestani parliament and republic minister of agriculture and fishing, is a sign that, with the blessing of the federal authorities in Moscow, Makhachkala has embarked on an all-out attack against local mafia groups. Khachilaev’s arrest is the most audacious in a series of recent arrests in the North Caucasus republic. Huge sums of money have been confiscated during these arrests: 486 million rubles, for example, during the recent search of the premises of the boss of the Zakaspisky fishing company. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 11) Magomed Khachilaev and his younger brother Nadyrshakh are perhaps the most powerful of the “new wave” of Dagestani politicians. During the perestroika period in the second half of the 1980s, leaders of Dagestan’s local mafia groups began to challenge the old Communist Party nomenklatura for power. Such men depend on what are virtually private armies, though the well-armed groups go under the name of “bodyguards.”

According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, this week’s arrest of Magomed Khachilaev is connected not–as reported in yesterday’s Monitor–with the seizure in May of the government building in Makhachkala, but with the fact that the Khachilaev brothers are suspected of involvement in the terrorist attack in Makhachkala on September 4 in which eighteen people were killed (Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 11). The chairman of the Dagestani government, Khizri Shikhsaidov, claimed in the wake of that attack that “certain forces are using terrorism to destabilize the republic in an attempt to seize power”. (RTR, September 5) That the Dagestani authorities decided to go ahead with the arrest of Magomed Khachilaev regardless of the backlash it was bound to provoke is an indication of Makhachkala’s determination to crack down on opposition in the republic.